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Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact vs X Compact: A serious upgrade, in every respect

Sony's Compact phones are pleasingly mini versions of its premium handsets and the latest member of the family, the Xperia XZ1 Compact, is the best by far. Here's how this fresh new mini mobile compares with the Xperia X Compact from last year.

At IFA 2017 over in Berlin, Sony Mobile just launched its latest super-specced flagship phone, the Xperia XZ1. However, it's the mini version of this device - the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact - that really has us excited.

Big blowers have been a serious theme of 2017, with most flagship mobiles hitting the 5.5-inch or even the 6-inch mark. Great news if you have massive hands and clown-sized pockets, bad news if you enjoy comfortable grip and easy one-handed use.

That's why the 4.6-inch Xperia XZ1 Compact is so appealing. Sony's Compact handsets are among the very few sub-5-inch smartphones you can get right now, yet last year's Xperia X Compact was sadly a bit of a let-down. The mid-range processor made it only a small upgrade over the previous Xperia Z5 Compact, while key features such as the water resistance were scrapped entirely.

Sony appears to have listened to its critics, and so this year we have the Xperia XZ1 Compact, packing almost all of the same premium specs as the full-sized flagship. Here's how the XZ1 Compact compares with the older X Compact, and as you'll see, it's a serious upgrade in pretty much every respect.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact vs Xperia X Compact: Specs

Phone Sony Xperia X Compact Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact
Weight 135g TBC
Screen size 4.6-inches 4.6-inches
Screen resolution 1280x720 HD 1280x720 HD
Water resistant? No Yes
Fingerprint sensor? Yes Yes
Processor Snapdragon 650 Snapdragon 835
Memory 3GB 4GB
Storage 32GB 32GB
MicroSD? Yes Yes
Cameras 23MP, 13MP 19MP, 8MP

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact vs Xperia X Compact: Design

Stick the X Compact and the XZ1 Compact side-by-side and you might well struggle to work out which is which.

In both cases you're getting a 4.6-inch mobile with a shiny plastic finish (or space-worthy glass fibre woven plastic in the XZ1 Compact's case). They're both chunky handsets, which is more than forgivable considering the tiny height and width. We're hesitant to call a mobile 'cute', yet that's definitely an adjective that could be levelled at these Sony smartphones.

One-handed use is an absolute doddle and you'll have no trouble slipping either into a pocket or bag. You can also pick them both up in a small selection of colours.

However, where the Xperia XZ1 Compact begins to show its dominance is with its fully water-resistant IP67 construction. You can dunk this new mini mobile in roughly a metre of water for up to half an hour with no troubles, while the X Compact can at best survive a bit of use in the rain.

In both cases you get an edge-mounted fingerprint sensor. This falls naturally underneath your thumb or finger, depending on which hand you clutch the Compact with, for quick and natural use.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact vs Xperia X Compact: Screen and media

The Compact blowers in this comparison both offer a 4.6-inch IPS screen, with a 720p HD resolution. That's sharp enough to produce crisp visuals when watching movies, browsing your photo collection and so on, with no individual pixels in sight.

Of course, 4.6-inches isn't perfectly suited to enjoying movies or shows on the go, so you might want to look to the full-sized Sony mobiles if you plan on streaming a lot of Netflix on your new phone.

Sony's Super Vivid Mode can be called upon to boost the colour vibrancy and make images really pop from those dinky screens. You also get image enhancement for video playback, support for Hi-Res Audio and the likes of DSEE-HX to bring compressed tracks back to life. In other words, either handset does the job for music lovers, especially with the 3.5mm headphone jacks for wired connections.

Both phones also pack a microSD memory card, so you can expand the on-board storage (you get 32GB) and carry around plenty of media.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact vs Xperia X Compact: Performance and battery life

Sony's Xperia X Compact uses the same Snapdragon 650 chipset as the full-sized Xperia X, backed up with 3GB of RAM. This is perfectly fine for everyday running, although we do see the odd stutter or pause and sometimes apps take a little while to load up.

This is where the Xperia XZ1 Compact is once again the superior smartphone. Qualcomm's powerful Snapdragon 835 platform runs the show, which is a massive step up in terms of power. You also get strong energy efficiency despite the power on offer, along with support for Cat. 15 LTE, meaning peak download speeds up to 800Mbps.

As for battery life, the Xperia X Compact impresses with an average of 36 hours of use per charge. If you're restrained with your media streaming and the rest you can even make it to a full two days, especially with Android Nougat's improved efficiency. That Qnovo tech means we haven't seen any degradation over time, either.

The XZ1 Compact packs a 2700mAh battery just like the X Compact, so we're hoping to get similar longevity in our full testing.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact vs Xperia X Compact: Cameras

One of the few areas where the Xperia X Compact really impressed us was that 23-megapixel rear shooter. This boasts a laser-guided autofocus which helps to keep your subject sharp in low light conditions, as well as 5-axis image stabilisation. You can get great-looking shots in almost any conditions with Sony's Superior Auto Mode, while full manual controls are also on offer.

The Xperia X Compact sadly can't shoot 4K video, topping off at Full HD footage. You also get quite a basic 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

Once again, the Xperia XZ1 Compact is a significant upgrade, for many reasons. Although the megapixel count has dropped to 19-megapixels, this snapper has some serious smarts that help you to capture quick-moving subjects, including a nifty new autofocus burst mode. You also get an auto-capture smile mode, as well as the ability to scan 3D objects and faces.

But most impressive is the Super Slow Motion feature, which can capture snippets of video at a ridiculous 960 frames-per-second. The results are truly outstanding. And speaking of video, you can now shoot at 4K Ultra HD resolution as well.

Lastly, that selfie cam has been boosted to 8-megapixels and blessed with a new 120-degree wide-angle mode, which is perfect for those group shots.

Check out our Xperia XZ1 Compact hands-on for all you need to know.

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